Jewellery Materials Guide

 

Introduction

In today’s advanced world, there are so many metals used in jewellery and watches. But which one is best for you? You need to know what you’re buying, what you’re getting for your money and how to care for your precious item. From how the variety of colours of gold are produced to the difference between gold plating and gold vermeil, we’ll tell you everything you need to know. We've also added tips to looking after your precious metal jewellery and a bit of history around the array of metals that are available.

Gold

Gold Colours

Sterling Silver

Platinum

Palladium

Titanium

Vermeil

Rhodium

Silver Plated

Gold Plated

Stainless steel

Ceramic

Murano Glass

Leather


Gold

Gold is traditionally the most popular of all precious metals. It is available in different carats (ct), explained below, and different colours.

Gold is a natural metal which is mixed with other alloys, depending on carat level. Over time, the tone of gold can fade naturally.

The level of gold content is measured in carats (ct). Generally, the higher the gold content the more valuable it is but the softer it is. Pure gold is known as 24ct gold. The most precious type of gold, 24ct gold is very soft and can show signs of wear easily. 18ct and 9ct gold are more commonly used for jewellery in the UK. 18ct gold is stronger than 24ct gold and is ideal for everyday wear. 9ct gold is stronger still and is the most affordable quality of gold.

The caratage of gold is expressed in parts of pure gold per 1000: - 750 fineness, the measure for 18ct gold, indicates 750 parts of gold per 1000 or 75% gold. - 375 fineness, the measure for 9ct gold, indicates 375 parts of gold per 1000 or 37.5% gold.

Gold jewellery will carry a hallmark which guarantees its authenticity and, as part of this the item’s fineness, or purity will be stamped.

 

Hallmark:

9ct:           375

18ct:         750

24ct:         990

Common uses:

Rings Pendants

Earrings

Bracelets

 

Gold Colours

Gold Metal is available in:

Yellow Gold, often known as Plain Gold – the tone of yellow gold varies with carat levels;

White Gold is given its’ whit colour from a coating of Rhodium which is plated over a raw gold base. Rhodium is a silver-white metal with similar properties to Platinum. White gold rings require maintenance as the Rhodium plating will wear off due to everyday wear. Re-Rhodium plating is usually recommended every 12-18 months.

Rose Gold earns its colour from mixing pure gold with other alloy components including copper. Copper components give the Rose gold that rosy colour.

Common uses:

Rings

Pendants

Bracelets

Earrings

 

Gold Carat

Gold Carat indicates the level of purity of gold in the piece of Jewellery. That is to say, the carat explains what percentage of pure gold is contained in the item. Each corresponding Hallmark is indicative of the carat level.

9ct contains 375 parts per 1000 – 37.5% pure

18ct contains 750 parts per 1000 – 75% pure

24ct contains 990 parts per 1000 – 99% pure

 

Sterling Silver

Silver is a relatively light metal which makes it practical to use and comfortable to wear. Silver is an ideal metal to produce detailed and beautiful jewellery because of this.

Silver fineness is expressed as parts per thousand and is normally alloyed with copper to make it stronger and harder. All Fields Silver is Hallmarked 925 – meaning there is 92.5% pure silver in our silver metal.

Silver will naturally oxidize and discolour due to the metal’s reaction with sulphur dioxide in the air. This is easily rectified – by using a silver solution; this surface discolouration can be removed, restoring the silver to its original gleaming state.

Hallmark: 925

Common uses:

Pendants

Earrings

Bracelets

Rings

 

Platinum

Platinum is a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings because of its durability, natural white colour which has reflective qualities and strength. Platinum is very strong and hard wearing which ensures that your ring of choice will be long-lasting.

Platinum will scratch over time, but it is possible to have scratches polished out of your jewellery, which will restore the metal’s original lustre.

The natural white lustre of platinum will not fade, tarnish or discolour over time.

Hallmark: 950

Common uses:

Ladies & Gents Wedding Bands

Engagement Rings

 

Palladium

Stronger, but not lighter than Platinum, Palladium is a natural element with a bright white-silver tone. Very durable and hard wearing, Palladium is an extremely popular choice for men’s jewellery. Be assured that your wedding band

Palladium is naturally a white metal and will not discolour or tarnish.

Hallmark: 950PD

Common uses:

Gents wedding bands

 

Titanium

Titanium is a natural metal which has a sliver-grey colour to it. One of the strongest metals in the world, Titanium is also light weight. These features make it an ideal choice for mens jewellery as it is durable and hard-wearing.

Titanium is a naturally dull-silver colour, and will not tarnish or discolour.

Common uses:

Gents Rings

Gents Wedding Bands

Watches

 

Vermeil

Vermeil is an alternative to Gold metal. A coating of gold is electrolysis-plating over pure sterling silver in order to give the metal a long-lasting Gold finish.

Because Vermeil is not a naturally gold metal, over a prolonged period the gold will wear away. However Vermeils Gold coating will last far longer than regular Gold plating, as its surface must be at least 2.5 microns thick to be considered as Vermeil.

Common uses:

Rings

Pendants

Earrings

Bracelets

 

Rhodium

Rhodium is a naturally white-silver metal and is one of the most precious metals in the world. It is frequently used in White gold, in which it is plated over a raw gold base to give a white finish. Rhodium is often plated over a base metal for a more affordable solution.

Common uses:

Rings

Pendants

Earrings

Bracelets

 

Silver Plated

Silver plated metal is created through a top layer of gold being plated over a base metal. Silver plated metal is often featured in costume jewellery and cufflinks. Over time, the Silver surface will wear from the base metal and fade in colour.

Common uses:

Cufflinks

Bracelets

Pendants

 

Gold Plated

Gold plated metal is created through a top layer of gold being plated over a base metal. Gold plated metal is often featured in costume jewellery. The gold surface will wear from the base metal and fade in colour over time.

Common uses:

Cufflinks

Bracelets

Pendants

 

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is the most popular metal used in making watches. This metal is attractive in colour, and is both tarnish and stain resistant, hence it will not discolour or rust. Stainless steel is hard-wearing and durable, though it is not scratch-resistant.

Common uses:

Watches

Gents Jewellery

 

Ceramic

Virtually scratch-resistant, Ceramic is strong, durable and hypo-allergic and is an increasingly popular material of choice for watches. Because of its strength, ceramic does not scratch easily which means your watch will look newer longer than a Stainless Steel watch. Another feature of ceramic is its adaptable temperature – a ceramic watch will adapt to your body temperature, which makes for very comfortable wear. Ceramic is soft to touch.

Though ceramic is strong and virtually scratch-resistant, it is possible to crack, or break ceramic if dropped.

 

Murano Glass

Murano Glass is renowned worldwide for its beautiful charm and clarity. The production of Murano glass beads dates back to the early 14th Century in Venice. Genuine Murano glass is sleek, unique and of great quality. It is most frequently featured in Charms.

Common uses:

Charms

 

Leather

Another material which has become commonplace in fashion jewellery is Leather. Popular in the designs of both male and female jewellery, leather and especially genuine leather is fashionable and comfortable.

Common uses:

Bracelets

Necklaces